These files represent a collection of ufological oral history that cover the first appearances of flying saucers and UFOs in the popular Western media. They were compiled by Wendy Connors for her Faded Discs archives with material sourced from libraries and private collections like those of the Center for UFO Studies. She subjected herself to untold ear-ache and digitally remastered them to be more suitable for modern hearing tastes.
They include debates between NICAP and the USAF and several shows feature people like Major Donald E. Keyhoe, Ivan T. Sanderson and Kenneth Arnold.
During the earlier years, these reports were taken more seriously than today and public discourse included scientists as well as senior figures in the US military. The panel-show format hadn't become quite as ossified as it currently is and it was possible to have opposing views discussed vigorously without the stereotypical extremes of today. This wasn't always the case as is evident in the infamous 'Armstrong Circle Theater' and 'America's Town Meeting' shows. Tempers were running high as lines became increasingly more defined and sides began resorting to allegations and character attacks.
In the 'Edward. R. Murrow' show, Kenneth Arnold is interviewed and Donald Menzel comes out fighting with the same arguments seen in the panel shows of today. Misperceptions, hoaxes and remarkable astronomical circumstances (mirages of Saturn reflecting off temperature inversions etc) were deemed, by him, to account for all reports.
Explanations for the sources and causes of the saucers were as varied as they are now although probably more sincere and honestly speculative. For example, Ivan T. Sanderson and SF author Lester del Rey clash over the idea that UFOs were actually secret NAZI technology in the 'Man-Made UFOs' show. In 'Biological Theory of UFOs' he offers the concept that the saucers were actually biological entities - an idea that continues in varying forms.
In 'Flying Saucers and Little Green Men,' Isabel Davis takes panel skeptics to task for the ill-conceived nonsense of 'little green men.' She also seeks to distance credible researchers from the burgeoning Contactee scene. Sanderson also returns alongside del Rey and Ben Isquith to debate Aimé Michel's Orthotony book ('The Straight-Line Mystery').
Throughout these historical audio files are phone calls and interviews with contemporary witnesses of UFOs. Many went into the Project Blue Book files and their spoken reports add colour and urgency to the dusty written records. In particular, 'Project 60' and 'People, Places and Things' are great examples of how dynamic the public engagement with the phenomena could be.
Collectively, these echoes from the past add substance to what have become very faded tales indeed. When we read contemporary accounts, it's easy to lose our connection to past times and events. It's all too understandable that society forgets the significant cultural impact these reports generated.